*NEW* GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 REVIEW *NEW*

They’re back BUT bigger and better?

The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage.

Mad fun BUT it falls short of its predecessor.

The silly opening was entertaining enough as the adorable Baby Groot danced around to the beat of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky while a violent battle ensued in the background.

I felt the banter and chemistry between the dysfunctional team was all over the place. Writer/director James Gunn tried too hard with the laughs that it hampered the piece in places with the cast just shouting flat insults at each other.

I know a good portion of the story was about the team having teething problems after the events of the first film. BUT the squabbling and yelling really grated against me.

A gag involving the name of a villain drew a laugh BUT it soon overstayed its welcome as the name kept getting brought up.

I felt Vol 1 had the right balance. Each dysfunctional member bringing something to the fold.

This time around, it felt a lot sillier with Rocket and Groot spending too much time in the background.

No one expected anything from Vol 1. It was one of my favourite films of the year. I think I even went to the cinema twice to see it and I never do that for a movie.

Such a strong first movie that it was going to take something special to top it.

Henry Braham’s incredibly colourful palette and visual effects were a feast for the eyes. The set pieces were exhilarating and fun to watch.

Kurt Russell was brilliant as Ego. He worked well with Pratt and made their relationship an interesting angle BUT the only problem was that the pace tragically lagged as Quill discovered his true origins.

Even if Laura Haddock’s talents (Transformers: The Last Knight) were wasted yet again. I wondered when she got the role as Star-Lord’s mother if there was going to be more of her BUT what we got was unnecessary and offered new.

Bradley Cooper’s Rocket (Easy now) stole the show with his insults and crazy antics (“Don’t call me a raccoon! Trash panda? *PAUSE* Is that worse?”).

Vin Diesel had the easiest job going yet again delivering his helium induced phrases to the tiny tree root. You couldn’t resist the little rebel.

Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager) was completely wasted in her role as Ayesha.

However, there was one character that stole the show for me and that was Yondu. Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) was fantastic. I loved how we actually got a little depth to the space pirate and explored his past. An unexpected surprise.

Pom Klementieff (Oldboy) was a memorable addition to the mad (and increasingly top heavy) squad as Mantis. Her emotion sensing abilities was a party trick that helped create all sorts of cringe inducing laughs.

Especially on “the thing that nobody’s talking about” between Gamora and Quill (Yawwnnnn . . . ).

The only problem was that Gunn expanded on story lines that were already explored in Vol 1. It made things a little repetitive and predictable.

Gamora and Nebula’s sibling sparring got on my nerves. Especially when the pair kept kicking off. It was almost as ridiculous as Peter Griffin fighting the Giant Chicken! We had all that in the first one!

Don’t get me wrong, there was still fun to be had and I enjoyed the majority of the madness with another fantastic soundtrack that I will no doubt purchase.

Not every wrestling star can make the jump to the big screen BUT Dave Bautista was still on scene stealing form as the deluded Drax with his random outlook and bizarre stories.

The final act redeemed a lot of the problems with an action packed closer that threw in a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

So despite its shortcomings, it was still crazy fun and fans won’t be disappointed.

3.5/5

P.S. I’m sure you’re bored of me saying this BUT don’t walk out on the credits. There are several different teasers that pop up. Definitely worth waiting for.

STAR TREK BEYOND 3D REVIEW

Star Trek be-yawwwnnneed.

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy (Ol’ Luther – I mean, Idris Elba) who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

I’m NOT the biggest Trekkie BUT I have really enjoyed the Abram reboots. Shaking up the cast, reworking the old story lines and tweaking the dynamic.

A breath of fresh air among the barrage of reboots, remakes and endless (and unnecessary) sequels. BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow Into Darkness.

A new outing that didn’t rely on past plots. My confidence was restored when I discovered that Beyond was penned by an avid Trekkie (Simon ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Pegg!). A man who relished the dream role of playing Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott made famous by James Doohan.

BUT this time around, I felt this lacklustre sequel only just delivered a watchable actioner. From the director of Fast and Furious, I knew I could expect big explosions AND good set pieces.

BUT it was a case of either being too fast and furious with the action or drawn out and repetitious with barely any exploration of the characters. Even the laughs were few and far between.

The opening act didn’t really give me much hope with the crew acting as intermediaries between some silly CGI dog things. Yikes. It seemed to go through the motions with Pine’s Kirk going through yet another existential crisis as he questioned his purpose on the Enterprise.

Quinto’s Spock received some grave news which made the normally unfeeling extraterrestrial contemplate life and death. I just wished it wasn’t so tedious and uninteresting.

That’s NOT to say there weren’t moments to be had. The special effects were impressive. BUT that was only when you could actually see the set pieces. There were several scenes where I actually struggled to see a majority of the action.

I could see the Phaser rays blasting through the darkness BUT only just gather that it was Kirk and Chekhov sliding down a spaceship hanging off a cliff. Ridiculous.

The 3D was a waste of time. It didn’t bring anything to the experience. When the Enterprise was attacked by Krall’s death ships, it was a sight to behold BUT after 15 minutes of explosions and carnage, I found myself fidgeting.

I liked the dynamic between Spock and Bones as the pair were reluctantly put together. Karl Urban (Dredd) was the main scene stealer and kept things light when the pace drudged along.

Once Big Ears got over his nihilistic sulk, he was back on fine form. The banter between the duo was a much needed tonic; “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewellery”.

The rest of the crew was a mixed bag. The late Anton Yelchin had quite a big involvement in the mix as he aided Kirk in the battle against Krall’s goons. His presence will be missed. Although rumours suggest that Abrams may try and do what they did with Walker in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Pegg’s muddled Scot accent really grated against me. And I was disappointed that his little green pal Wee Man (“Get down from there!”) was left on the sidelines.

There wasn’t any depth to the characters. Bar Dr Zulu’s sexuality. Hardly a revelation and thrown in without any exploration. Shame.

There might have even been a bad continuity error with the length of their journey to the age of Zulu’s child (For those who watched it – Did you notice this?).

Saldana’s Uhura was reduced to being Krall’s prisoner for the majority of the movie. If anything, her absence wasn’t missed. Disappointing, to say the least.

Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) was the best character in the piece as the feisty Jayla. I wanted to know about her origins and why she was the only alien to evade Krall’s capture.

However it wasn’t long before she was pushed into the background for more mindless exposition. Only to be brought back for the frantic finale.

More could have made out of her. A missed opportunity.

Idris Elba did his best with the creepy Krall. The make up was brilliant. He really looked the part BUT Luther’s lines and delivery made him too comical for my liking. You try listening to him with that silly voice pronouncing Captain Kirk. Good lord.

He couldn’t match Cumberbatch’s tenacity or Bana’s bad-assery and was quite a tame villain by comparison. A twist about Krall could have been so much more BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

Captain’s Log; Beyond was a bit of a misfire for me. It tried to deliver a bit of everything and failed on all fronts.

A watchable effort that killed the time BUT I think Scotty better beam up a better script for the next endeavour.

2.5/5

*NEW* BEAUTY AND THE BEAST REVIEW *NEW*

And the remakes keep on coming . . .

BUT if they can keep up this standard then be my guest (I couldn’t resist).

An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince (Dan Stevens) and a young woman (Emma Watson) who fall in love.

After complaining for the last five years about reboots and remakes, I was livid that even Disney were revisiting their backlog. I mean is that hard to find original stories? If you are going to remake movies, can you at least tackle the bad ones? Leave the classics alone!

However, I was pleasantly surprised with Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Cinderella. The less we say about the Alice in Wonderland movies, the better. While The Jungle Book fell short of the classic by a country mile.

So my feelings about watching the new Beauty and the Beast were mixed, to say the least. Especially when I discovered that there was an extra 45 minutes on the running length to the 1991 animated hit!

BUT after all my griping, I finally gave it a go and you know what? It wasn’t too bad at all.

The opening surprised me from the get go. Expanding on the origin story of the curse. The overture fell a little flat but the lavish set designs, costumes and Tobias A. Schliessler’s beautiful cinematography took my attention away from that bum note.

The Belle sequence was literally a shot for shot live action re-enactment. Emma Watson was the physical embodiment of Belle. Her singing wasn’t the strongest but a lovely voice all the same.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad were fantastic. Evans played Gaston with aplomb. He was Gaston, nailing the shallow womanizer perfectly.

Who better than Olaf from Frozen to take on Gaston’s long suffering, and incredibly flamboyant, partner in crime LeFou. Gad was equally as entertaining. Prancing and pouting about the place.

The controversy about the gay subtext was misplaced. If there was one, I didn’t notice and it didn’t ruin the story in any capacity.

Belle was always a strong feminist character that wanted more from the world and her role. Her confrontation with a villager over teaching a young girl to read was a little heavy handed.

I was disappointed with Kevin Kline’s performance as Maurice. He was far too deadpan for the role. Belle’s father was always the quirky crackpot.

A shame considering you had the best man for the job. I mean, he was in A Fish Called Wanda?! He didn’t even have Rex Everhart’s delivery. Too stern and frail.

The pace kept things moving along and the film was easy-going and highly watchable.

From the trailers and teasers, I thought the effects on the Beast looked dreadful BUT once Belle entered that haunting Gothic castle, I was impressed.

The special effects and CGI were brilliant. The Beast actually looked quite good. Stevens did well and I could understand his gravelly voice. Not quite Lance Henriksen’s gravitas BUT he still delivered a sterling performance.

I think what helped (and had to) was that the pair had great chemistry. The extra running time fleshed out the pair’s blossoming romance and made it a little more believable that this stubborn and unloving beast would take some time to get over his hurt ego and learn to love again.

The supporting cast had tough acts to follow BUT what a cast?!

Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen played Lumiere and Cogsworth perfectly. They were a great duo and kept things entertaining.

Even if I couldn’t help but laugh at McGregor’s ‘Allo Allo accent. The Moulin Rouge maestro excelled with his rendition of Be Our Guest.

Stanley Tucci was wasted in his small role as Maestro Cadenza. While Emma Thompson was so-so for me as Mrs. Potts.

Her mockney accent grated against me in parts. She was always going to have a tough act following in Angela Lansbury’s footsteps. BUT as soon as Beauty and the Beast came on, and Belle strolled down those labyrinthine stairs for that infamous dance, it still worked a treat and Thompson excelled.

Composer Alan Menken thankfully kept the original soundtrack and added new entries.  The only problem was that they weren’t really that memorable. Days in the Sun wasn’t a bad song BUT the others have . . . already slipped my mind.

The story was still the same BUT the extra fleshing out wasn’t a bad approach. Especially when they played on the magic of the Rose and the flashback to Belle’s childhood. It was different. Just a shame that it led to the same old result BUT why stray away from a winning formula?

Thankfully, there was enough heart, charm and cheese to make this an entertaining affair that complimented the original Disney classic and just about stood on its own two feet.

3/5

*NEW* SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING REVIEW *NEW*

Spidey’s back! Third reboot’s the charm?

Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), with the help of his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York while fighting crime as Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture (Michael Keaton), emerges.

I was furious when I heard that Spiderman was being rebooted yet again. I grew up with the Maguire movies and thought he was the best Spidey. Plus he gave us all these incredible shots. I mean, come on . . .

 

 

Although I tried to watch the 2002 entry (15 years?!) the other day and thought it was pretty cringe inducing watching a bunch of people in their mid-20s to 30s pretending to be 16. Yikes. It already felt dated and far too corny for its own good. While Spiderman 2, on the other hand, is still fantastic.

I liked Andrew Garfield BUT felt the Amazing Spiderman movies did more damage to the franchise than Spiderman 3. Especially Part Two. Dreadful doesn’t come close to expressing my disappointment with that movie. Shame.

Civil War was one of the best Marvel movies. Surprisingly, the biggest scene stealer out of the ever-growing and incredibly talented cast was . . . Spidey himself. I was really impressed with Holland’s cameo. So much so that I was actually looking forward (and dare I say excited) to watching Homecoming.

So after that rambling prologue, did Holland deliver on his first full feature debut?

In a nutshell, he didn’t disappoint! Good fun all round!

The energy and quick witted humour was cranked up to 11. Holland’s fast talking and rampant energy was a much needed injection to a franchise (I feared) couldn’t be revived.

The opening didn’t mess about. It set up the baddie, brought in the hero and got down to business.

Homecoming was an origin movie without being one (if that’s possible). We didn’t have the spider bite. We’ve had 5 movies (and a vastly rich comic book backlog). We all know how he got his powers. And just in case, you didn’t; a passing comment was enough to suffice.

The producers have done their homework. Using the predecessors as a base to explore unmarked territory. Hardly a spoiler BUT there wasn’t even another soul destroying Uncle Ben killing back story.

If anything, this felt like, as Stark so rightly put it, “Spiderman in training wheels” mode. A much lighter effort.

The humour was fantastic as Spiderman tried to help his neighbourhood. Rescuing stolen bikes, giving people directions and swinging around the city. All to the beat of a cracking soundtrack.

The high school melodrama was a little tame for me. Watchable and fun BUT I want my superheroes battling something darker than popularity and a high school crush.

Zendaya was funny but her role felt a little unnecessary and out of place. Jacob Batalon was the scene stealer as Peter’s nerdy partner in crime, Ned. The clumsy duo delivered some of the better laughs.

Marisa Tomei wasn’t in this as much as I hoped. I always liked the relationship between Aunt May and Peter. They didn’t really get any proper screen time until near the end. Despite some nice moments, there are some things we don’t mind revisiting.

It helped having Tony Stark popping up as Parker’s mentor. The dynamic worked on so many levels; giving an extra depth to the pair. Parker with his naïve and eager determination to do more and Stark finally opening up and showing that he’s more than a mega rich ego-centrist.

I didn’t really have much time for Jon Favreau’s chauffeur Happy in the Iron Man movies. I thought it was a little pretentious for the Iron Man director to get in on the action BUT he really delivered as the miserable babysitter. His droll demeanour and frustration worked perfectly with the super peppy Parker.

The special effects were fantastic. A nail biting action set piece involving the Washington Monument left me feeling queasy. I’m not that bad with heights BUT even that sequence gave me vertigo. Bleurgh.

3D was a waste of time. BUT if you’re thinking of seeing it in 4DX, I would heavily recommend. Just don’t see it on a hot summer’s day. Trust me, you’ll be praying for Keaton’s Vulture (Steady now). Only if it’s just for the fans to come on. Phew.

And Michael Keaton, well . . . I can’t even begin to tackle the metatextual references. The guy who played a superhero, who then played a washed up actor playing a superhero called Birdman, who then played a super villain called the Vulture. My God.

He was brilliant. Chewing up the scenes. Not enough of him. I felt his performance and gravitas was wasted on the wrong villain. After having the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe’s NOT James Franco and DEFINITELY NOT Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin!) and Doctor Octopus, the Vulture fell short by comparison.

Keaton was only really let loose in the chaotic finale. His “Walk away” speech with Parker was tense and unnerving. Perfect. I wanted more of that.

The pace did lag as we reached the 105 minute marker and I felt the final showdown with The Vulture was drawn out and a little repetitive with one agonizing explosion after explosion. The CGI and camera work was incredibly disorienting as the pair spiralled around in the night sky.

Holland delivered a stellar turn BUT I found, at times, his running commentary irritating. Now, I never read the comic books (Sacrilege! I know) BUT was Parker always so chatty that he came off as a mad teen with ADHD? Just a small grumble. I mean come on. He’s 15 with superhuman powers.

Despite its flaws, Homecoming was still a fun ride as Peter come to terms with the scope of his abilities and the morals of justice. With Holland at the helm and this production team, there’s still life in Spidey yet. And I can’t wait for more.

3.5/5

AND . . .  Of course, there is a post credit teaser. It’s a Marvel movie. Be PATIENT and the wait pays off.

*NEW* POWER RANGERS REVIEW *NEW*

Go, go . . . Watch something else.

Another reboot bites the dust. Messy, corny, long at the tooth. How could a movie involving alien superpowers and giant robots be so god damn boring?

A group of high-school students, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.

I grew up with the Power Rangers. The original TV show. I had all the merch; the Red Ranger outfit, the little gloves that made the karate kick sound, the MegaZord, the Green Ranger’s Dragon sword. The list goes on.

To cut a long story short, I’m a fan. Well, was. Of course nearing my 30s, the cynicism was always going to be there. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see my childhood TV show get the Hollywood reboot treatment.

The disorienting shaky handicam opening with bad boy Jason being pursued by the police didn’t build my hopes up.

The pace was a little long at the tooth, to say the least. I understand that the characters are teenagers and the original Power Rangers team never really had a lot of depth to them. Too busy punching putty people to worry about who doesn’t like them at school.

The movies were hardly perfect and got increasingly worse as the franchise turned to Turbo Force, Jungle Rangers and God knows what else.

I could respect that the writers tried to inject some teen angst on these social outcasts BUT it was far too corny and dull for the film. Too serious for its own good.

When things kicked off, my griping was subdued. BUT I didn’t really like the new faces. I did approve of the reshuffling of the colour assignment. A running gag that did draw a cheeky grin. A sly dig at the original show’s writers.

Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things) didn’t do a bad job as Jason. His character was just such an immature airhead that after all the build-up, his swift transformation to leader of the pack was rushed.

Even I was as cynical as Zordon at his sudden change in behaviour.

Naomi Scott played Kimberley well. Her melodrama was a little tame after all the sulking and acting out. Some cheerleader hazing after sharing a “dodgy” picture. Bleurgh.

I actually liked RJ Cyler (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl) as Billy. A complete change in character. The socially awkward nerd with a suggested learning disability. The glue that kept the gang together.

Trini’s (Becky G) sexuality question mark felt lazy and tacked on. It failed to add any depth to her character. Her parents’ OTT behaviour didn’t help matters either.

Ludi Lin was incredibly irritating as Zack. The one performance that surprised me was Elizabeth Banks. I thought the Pitch Perfect princess would ruin the role of Rita Repulsa BUT she nailed it. Her cold stares, her whispery voice. She was actually quite creepy.

It was only in the silly finale when she tried to apply her comedy schtick that I felt it killed a reasonably decent performance. Shame.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston was brilliant as Zordon. The Emmy award winning actor was heavily underused in his role. He managed to bring gravitas to a naff grainy PC background.

His frustration and cynicism towards his new found army was a breath of fresh air – “These kids are MY rangers?! They will never be ready”.

Maybe his frustration was genuine after being roped into this movie?

NOT even Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) could work his voiceover magic as Alpha Five. The CGI on the android looked terrible. What’s wrong with props and costumes?

 

Yikes!

The gang’s training montages were watchable and entertaining enough. It just didn’t help that the characters were so bland and irritating.

The special effects weren’t too bad. Especially when they finally got to be Power Rangers! Zordon’s underground lair discovery was also quite impressive.

The only problem with a 124 minute film, the Rangers only morphed in the last 20 minutes (If that!). By the time that horrendous remastered theme song blared through the speakers, my fan boy excitement was already gone.

I was fidgeting in my seat for a good portion of the film. Let alone the little ‘uns.

When it got going, it was watchable and the fun if ridiculous finale delivered more of what I expected from the get go. Action packed punch ups, crazy effects and silly banter. If there was to be another, there’s going to be a lot of work to do.

I had to smile at the blink and you’ll miss it cameos BUT I was left disappointed and wanting. No Bulk and Skull? No putty people? Just some stupid rock things.

This could have been so much fun. Alas, it was not to be.

2.5/5 (Just)

*NEW* WONDER WOMAN REVIEW *NEW*

The best DC movie yet. But is that saying a lot?

Superhero movie of the year? Or overhyped drivel?

Gal Gadot, be still my beating heart.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

The only interesting character in Batman Vs Superman. Bearing in mind; I had no idea who she was or what she was actually doing (and why for that matter?)

Now we finally get some answers. Sort of.

The best DC movie outing but that doesn’t say much.

The opening origin story with young Diana was entertaining enough.

I never read the DC comics and knew only a little of the TV show with Lynda Carter. I don’t remember all this God stuff BUT the writers even managed to make the Lasso of Truth a believable (and lethal) weapon.

The 300 style training montage with the glorious Greek goddesses kept things ticking over as Diana defied her mother’s wishes by training to fight.

Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) were both underused as Diana’s sparring mother and aunt. One desperate to see Diana reach her potential, the other weary of it.

It was a little cheesy BUT it hit the spot as Diana grew stronger. The truth about her abilities rearing its ugly head just as a WW1 plane crashes into their safe haven. Opening a whole new world for our heroine.

The film was injected with the right balance of humour and heart. Something sorely missed in the other DC efforts . . . So far.

One particular highlight involving Diana, clad with sword and shield, strolling through a department store perplexed at the “battle” attire women wear.

The WW1 setting was a perfect focal point for our heroine. The film delicately handled sexism and politics quite well as Diana demanded to know why women couldn’t fight, vote or speak.

Not bad for a superhero movie.

The 3D was disappointing and hardly worth the ticket price BUT the special effects and action pieces were superb.

The No-Man’s land battle sequence was fantastic.

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was perfect. A great duo. Steve’s bewilderment and Diana’s defiant (if slightly naive) approach to achieving her objective was the glue that kept this piece together.

The banter and bubbling tension helped drudge the meandering pace (which tragically could have been cut by a good 20 minutes).

I loved the supporting cast. It was great to see Lucy Davis (The Office) back in the limelight. She was hilarious as Steve’s long suffering secretary. Diana’s reaction when she was told the purpose of a secretary was brilliant; “So you’re a slave?”

Of course, Diana and Steve couldn’t achieve their mission alone. They needed a rag tag team of misfits. Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle) was highly comical as Sameer.

I was elated to see ol’ Spud (Ewen Bremner -Trainspotting) as the drunk and disillusioned Charlie.

Eugene Brave Rock was a little weak as the poorly titled Chief. BUT he was nowhere near as weak as the villain.

Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was dreadfully bland and not quite as sinister as I had hoped. Reduced to popping pills and gurning some serious faces. Shame.

Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) drew more chills as Dr Poison (A terrible name!) with her scar and scary mask.

The finale was drawn out. It felt like the Man of Steel; once you’ve seen one super being smash another through set piece after set piece, it soon got a little repetitive.

Plus it rushed to such an abrupt ending that I was left wanting. Good in one sense but bad in another.

The only problem was that from all the hype, I also expected something a little more.

I have nothing against a strong female character taking the helm and to adapt a dated 70s TV show and make some of the sillier aspects into something empowering and less farfetched was a great feat.

BUT the drawn out pace and plot holed story line hindered an exhilarating blockbuster.

I was left asking questions (POTENTIAL SPOILERS, maybe?); if the Amazonian island was shielded away from the world – why was Trevor’s plane the one to break through? Explain the other wars after WW1 if Wonder Woman’s mission was to stop the God of War? What was she doing for the next century? Surely not sitting in a museum?

BUT for all its flaws, WW was still entertaining, engaging (if a little long at the tooth) and DC’s best effort to date.

There might be some hope for them after all.

3.5/5 (Just)

*DON’T SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS – there are NO extras, teasers, NADA*

*NEW* WAR MACHINE REVIEW *NEW*

Not funny enough to be a satire and not hard hitting enough to be taken seriously.

A misfire on all fronts.

What drove Pitt to do this?

A successful, charismatic four-star general, Glenn McMahon (Brad Pitt) leaps in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

My reaction while watching this drab affair.

To describe Glenn McMahon, I would have to say that “he was a throwback to another era”.

A bit like the actor that’s playing him and the film in question.

I didn’t know anything about McMahon before approaching this and after watching War Machine, I certainly don’t want to. I don’t know whether that was down to Pitt’s performance. BUT it was a joke for all the wrong reasons.

His gruff voice, the retarded face pulling and that weird run? Jogging about the place like he had the sh*ts.

I’m sure it was supposed to be comical BUT it was hard to show empathy towards a complete simpleton. Was that the punch line?

The film focuses on the 2009 Afghan withdrawal with Big Glenn (or the Glennible) tasked as the man to end the war and bring it home.

Despite the overlong running length, it was surprisingly watchable as McMahon made his assessments. Scoot McNairy’s droning commentary delivered some insightful quips BUT it went on a bit.

Free reign over his command as long as it didn’t involve bringing in more troops. Therein lies the rub.

Desperate to make some sort of impact and constantly dictated to by office bureaucrats and civilian advisors; it wasn’t long before McMahon realised he’d bitten off more than he could chew.

The tone was dreadfully mismatched. The Men Who Stare At Goats meets Jarhead vibe didn’t really work.

For all the shocking statistics and political sniping, there wasn’t really much going on.

That’s not to say that there weren’t moments to be had. I did laugh when McMahon mistook two Muslims for praying when they were actually trying to install a BluRay player.

The hypocrisy was ridiculous when Glenn demanded to know why Afghan farmers were growing opiates instead of cotton and wheat.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at the reasoning: “US cultivation funds will not support the production of a material that can be distributed in the world market and go in direct competition with the US. So we’re growing heroin instead”.

“People will vote for whoever their local squad tells them to in fear of having their heads chopped off”.

At one point, the man was literally left twiddling his thumbs for a month while he waited for the Afghan elections to finish. The irony even more bittersweet when the US bureaucrats were dissatisfied with the outcome and fixed another to find a more suitable candidate.

A bit like now, really?

I remember Topher Grace (That ‘70s Show) being a good actor. It’s a shame he keeps getting in films that don’t let him do that. Highly unmemorable. The same could be said for the majority of the supporting cast. Such a waste.

Sir Ben Kingsley was disappointing as President Karzai. He did his best with the material BUT it wasn’t enough.

Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) stood out as the disillusioned Corporal Billy Cole. His frustration at the troop’s increasingly vague objectives was spot on.

“We got what we wanted in the first six months. There’s no street parade waiting for you with this one”.

Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) played the shady government advisor Pat McKinnon well. The true orchestrator of this messy affair.

“The longer you stay, the worse it will be for us all. Please leave now”.

You could feel for McMahon’s frustration as he genuinely believed the manure he was shovelling. Receiving no “face time” with the President other than a passing handshake during a “Meet ‘n’ Greet”.

The man leaked his own report just to get the ball rolling. And even then he was short changed reinforcements by 10,000 men!

McMahon’s estranged relationship with his wife made for uncomfortable viewing. Equating the time they spent together to less than 30 days over the last 8 years. There was zero chemistry and killed the pace like a lead balloon.

It didn’t help that McMahon came across as such a tool.

His cross-examination in Berlin by a belligerent journalist (Tilda Swinton) was like wathcing a deer in headlights.

There may have been valid points BUT it was just one big rant aimed at an emotionally detached military figure.

I’m not sure whether that feeling of detachment was supposed to be the main theme of the piece BUT it was difficult for me to connect or care about the characters involved.

The closing attack on Helmand was dull and drawn out with the end result predictable and uninteresting.

Like the protagonist, War Machine felt lost in translation. I was left questioning what the filmmakers were were trying to do.

This would have been more hard hitting 10 years ago when we had that initial influx of Gulf war movies; Jarhead, In The Valley of Elah, The Hurt Locker.

Calling Obama’s administration weak and hypocritical when the man has already left office seemed a little pointless.

Watchable BUT I can’t say riveting or enlightening.

Despite some eye-opening encounters, this was still a disappointing misfire that failed to deliver enough hard-hitting drama or entertaining humour.

2.5/5